Tag Archives: Owen Armstrong

Corrie Street Apr. 26/15

Anna Mantis

Is there a human disorder that mimics the mating behaviour of the praying mantis? If so, Anna mantis cuddles babymaybe Anna Windass has it. Every time a child comes into her life, her mate must go. First Eddie Windass when Faye arrived, now Owen when Faye’s baby is hardly home from the hospital.

I know these situations resulted from the actors’ decisions to leave the show, but poor Debbie Rush has reason to be developing a complex over her character driving away her men and then huddling protectively over her brood.

now-there-is-a-babyIt started Monday, when Anna had a fit about Owen encouraging Faye to say what she really wants about the baby. Anna will not allow Faye to even entertain the “wrong” decision, giving the baby up for adoption. At least she finally admitted that to Owen; that, in her mind, there is only one “right decision.”

Then, within the same argument, she told Owen that was it, she wanted him to leave, that cannot-believe-you-mean-thatshe had too much to worry about what with the baby and all to also worry about him. Out the door he went.

He stayed at Kevin’s, then hung around hoping to change Anna’s mind. Izzy advised him to go to Portugal for a visit and let Anna think, maybe even miss him. He decided to do that. Then, after Anna firmly told him again that there was no chance for them, he decided to accept a job in Aberdeen.

anna-feeds-babyThen, somehow, the whole separation became his fault. When Faye was upset that Owen and Anna might split up, Anna told him that he had to tell her that they were separating and he was leaving. He had to do the breaking of Faye’s heart, as if it all were his idea.

Anna is exhausted from pretty much single-handedly looking after the baby, although everyone (except Faye) has offered to help. She i-love-you owen says as he leavesis worried about Faye. Anna has no money and now two children dependent on her. And she kicks out the man she says she loves and who doesn’t want to leave her.

The only difference between this story and that of Eddie’s departure is that Eddie did not want them to keep Faye. He put a ‘me or her’ choice to Anna, and Anna chose Faye. Other than that, it’s déjà vu all over again.

Corrie Street Feb. 22/15

Underacting

Sometimes it’s not the great speech, not the grand gesture. A look tells the story; underacting makes the impact. Three such moments from three actors.  Emotional scenes that, in lesser hands, could become melodrama.

“Take your time, Roy”

take-your-time Roy perfect underactingMonday, Roy is aware that he’s taking up Tyrone and Chesney’s time, going through the woods along the waterfront, from spot to identical spot. He’s looking for the right place to scatter Hayley’s ashes. He finds it, and starts the ritual he has practiced so many times in his head. He can’t continue. His anxiety is in his words, face and the frustrated flap of his hand. Take your time, says Tyrone. And Roy pauses and looks at him. He calms, and proceeds with his words of goodbye.

The pause, more than his words, conveys the importance of this event, the reconciliation he is making with his past life ending and a new one beginning.

Owen’s Ex

Thursday, Owen sees his ex-wife Linda with Katy. He confronts them, how dare Linda me-from-seeing-hersneak back to meet with Katy. How dare Katy have anything to do with this woman who abandoned her. They challenge him, why should they not talk to each other, hear out the other’s side. In one sucked in breath, Owen shows twenty years of pain. For just a heartbeat, he is silent.

In that instant, we see the hurt he still feels from Linda leaving him and their children, the fear that his daughters will be hurt again, and the fear too that they will abandon him. Then he goes back to yelling and threatening, being Owen again.

“Could you be…”

Friday, Craig consults Dr. Google to help Faye find possible reasons for her gain in weight. After they dismiss Cushing’s Disease, he continues scrolling then looks at the possible-thenscreen with shock. He asks, “could you be…?”

The pause and the look in his eyes is all we need to know what he is asking. Could she be pregnant. He is embarrassed and horrified but he waits for her answer. Not possible, she says, also looking embarrassed and horrified. But he perseveres with an ungainly but lovely sensitivity, making her aware she has to be honest with him and with herself.

All three situations are ones in which overacting would be easy. In all three, it’s the tiny pause the actors give that sets up the dramatic strength of the words that follow.

Corrie Street Aug. 10/14

Repo Man

faye-opens-doorTuesday the bailiffs come to the Windass-Armstrong house. Faye is the only one home and she lets them in. They size up what is worth taking to apply against the £5,480 that is due immediately.

If only Gary hadn’t run over to the shop to get a can of beans. If Faye had paid less attention to her phone and more to what Gary was telling her about who to let in and who to not. Even if Gary had explained why it was gary-tells-bailiffs-outso important to not open the door to anyone she didn’t know.

Faye told Anna that she knew what bankruptcy means. Gary might have made sure she also knew what repossession means, and that repo people might be on their way to their house. If he had, she might still have her laptop. But, as I once read, stories would be pretty short and uneventful if everyone did what they should do.

The visit by the bailiffs was eventful. Gary saw them as he came out of Dev’s, dropped his get-serious-sirtin of beans and sent out the alarm for Anna and Owen. All of them tried to stop anything being removed. They pleaded and tried to barter for an extra day, for mercy. The bailiffs did give the family as much time as they could to make a partial payment in cash. But the small amount they could come up with wasn’t enough. Anna again was willing to sacrifice what precious things she had left, her necklace and ring, if they would anna-begs-bailiffleave what belonged to the others. It’s not enough, the bailiff said and refused to take them from Anna.

The whole street, it seemed, was out to watch what was going on. Sally was in the midst of it, alternately being Miss Judgemental and showing compassion for Anna (a surprise!) and comforting Faye. She even got rid of the gawkers – “it’s not a circus.”

The bailiffs left with the television and Faye’s laptop, and a lot of the Windass and removing-tvArmstrong pride. But they didn’t take their determination to work together to get out of this mess.

Despite feeling powerless, they are doing what they can. Owen will take any job, no matter how small. Gary gives Faye the little he has to make her life a bit more normal. And Anna makes a difficult trek to a food bank, because she will feed her family, come hell or high water.

Corrie writers are telling a story that plays out too often in real-life. Owen has worked windass-armstrongs-regrouphard all his life and, this one time, he took a risk on a big opportunity. He isn’t a scam artist. He’s not Phelan who uses bankruptcy as a way of living well with everything in his wife’s name. He is not Eddie Windass who, although lovely, would cheat at anything just to keep in practice. Owen, and Anna, are just trying to look after a family in an honest and honourable way. Still, such a nightmare can happen.

Corrie Street June 29/14

Forgiveness

Owen-says-only-way-she-knowsFriday Owen tells Gary what Anna did. “Laid back and thought of England. Took one for the team.” Gary’s face registers shock; he can’t look at his mother. She pleads for his understanding. He explains he isn’t worthy to be in the same room with her after what she did for him, and neither is Owen. Then he wrapped his arms around her. She leaned into him and cried.

It’s about time one of them gave a big thank you to Anna for what she did. Izzy has been understanding and supportive but has not owen-and-anna-look-at-garysaid a heartfelt ‘thank you Anna for pulling us all out of that mess’. Owen has been distant and nasty. Katy has been nasty. You can understand Owen’s reaction: his wife slept with another man and, to make the humiliation greater, she did it to save him. There is no excuse for Katy. She speaks from the cruelty possessed only by someone with the self-righteousness of youthful inexperience.

Gary-wonders-what-Owen-will-sayWould Gary have been so quickly understanding if Owen were not there slagging off his mother and, by extension, him for getting them into the mess with Phelan? I doubt it. His sense of outrage probably would have kicked in, first toward Anna then toward Phelan. That was why they had all not wanted Gary to know, not wanted him to ‘kick off’ and make things worse. But he found out by Owen calling his mother a whore, with Izzy quickly following up with a warning about “punching first and thinking later”. That made him react the way no one expected: cognizant of his mother’s sacrifice and the role his violence had played in the whole thing.

forgiveness gary hugs annaMaybe Gary’s words touched Owen. Later Owen said his piece to Anna, about how he couldn’t get the image of Phelan and her out of his mind, of his own anger and shame. But maybe, with time, he could get over it. Anna was willing to listen to him. Then he said the words I hope he wished he could retract as soon as they were out of his mouth: “maybe I can forgive you”. Anna should need his forgiveness? I think it’s more the case of Owen needing forgiveness from Anna. He contributed to a situation that he, Gary, and the entire family escaped only by her prostituting herself for them. With his words, the compassion and love in Anna’s eyes died, replaced by justified fury.

Anna-turns-back-on-OwenToo late, Owen tried to make amends. He had no choice but to pack a bag and leave. Maybe they can find their way through this. I hope so, but Owen needs to get a deeper understanding of what sacrificing for your family really can mean. Anna now will not allow him to have anything less than that if they are to continue together.

Corrie Street May 25/14

Crossed Lines

anna-prepares-to-tell owenYou knew Anna was not going to tell Owen about her deal with Phelan, the one that got Owen out of Phelan’s debt if not the bank’s. You knew something always was going to happen just when she had steeled herself to tell him the real terms of Phelan’s agreement to let Owen and Gary off the hook. A secret nearly but not quite coming out is ‘soaps law’ but, this time, I almost hope she keeps it to herself.

izzy-katy-garyHe is not going to understand. She realized that when Izzy, Gary and Katy, all three upset, barged in just as she was ready to do it and he was ready to listen. Izzy told them she had borrowed from the charity money and got caught before she could return it. She got no sympathy from her father. There are lines that cannot be crossed no matter what, Owen told her. Anna recoiled as she realized that her sleeping with Phelan in order to get her family out from under pay-that-money-backservitude to him was likely another uncrossable line.

It was a nice oblique way of bringing the two stories together. Izzy has been going out of her mind with worry and guilt since she started dipping into the donation funds in order to pay bills. She is an honest person and this has been a difficult choice. Similarly, Anna is essentially an honest person and her guilt about Phelan has been more than she can bear. It is affecting her life with all her family, and especially Owen who interruptedbelieves that his business failure must be the reason she is so distant with him. What else could it be? The only way to convince him it isn’t is to tell him the truth, which is an even worse option.

She almost told Roy and I was half hoping she would. Surely Roy would understand and give good counsel, and at least it would be told. A burden shared is a burden halved and all that. But Roy has a clearly defined sense of morality and little experience in the grey area of situational ethics. What if he didn’t, couldn’t, understand? She would feel even worse, and it would be out there and likely always come between them.

some-things-you-do-not-doIzzy might be a good choice for confidante, I’ve thought. She knows Phelan was coming on to Anna so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise. But she is Owen’s daughter and would her loyalty to him trump the compassion and understanding she has for Anna? Plus this whole situation resulted from Gary winkling out from Izzy what she knew about Phelan and Anna. Izzy isn’t very good at keeping secrets and if Gary knew this one! Too much of a risk.

My advice to Anna is see a professional. Go to a counsellor and get it off your chest. He or anna-rethinking-decisionshe may have good advice on how to deal with this and, if not, would at least be duty-bound to keep your secret. Going on as she has been is not viable, but there are not a lot of options for confession either.

Corrie Street Apr. 27/14

Playing with Fire

The Windass-Armstrongs are playing with fire, literally and metaphorically. Phelan new-foremanpushed Owen too far by hiring a new foreman, overseeing everyone including heretofore manager Owen. Obviously happy to be in Phelan’s pocket, the new guy tells Owen what a safety hazard the site is. As he talks, and smirks, he grinds out a cigarette butt on the worksite floor and lights a new one.

Lit cigarettes amid the new wood, sawdust and shavings gives Owen an idea, a crazy one but understandable. At the end of the day, he tells Gary to go on without him. He piles skids in the middle of the building, then pulls out a Zippo. Fortunately Anna comes in. Owen-holds-lighter-  Windass-ArmstrongsShe was worried when he didn’t come home with Gary, and she knows he’s at the end of his endurance. She coaxes the lighter away from him, then tells him off. What good does he possibly think this is going to do for anyone, etc.

He realizes he had indeed lost his mind. How can he continue taking the physical punishment of the hours Phelan is demanding, the mental punishment of humiliation dished out by Phelan, and the continued strain of total financial ruin? Owen is a good man. A hard man, even a bully, but at heart he has honourable intentions and is willing to do whatever is necessary, good or bad.

After his death this week, I saw a quote from Cape Breton writer Alistair McLeod: “And then there came into my heart a very great love for my father and I thought it was very much braver to spend a life doing what you really do not want rather than selfishly following forever your own dreams and inclinations.” That, I believe, applies to Owen. And Anna too.

gary-panic-attackGary pukes up, gets despondent, has tantrums and then, more seriously, panic attacks.  Izzy says she can’t take Gary’s moods and ‘wot’s it all doing to little Jake?’. Katy either mouths off at Phelan or speaks platitudes like ‘we all have to pull together’.  Faye gets disappointment after disappointment but does her best to ‘pull together’.  And Anna and Owen just keep putting their heads down and forging through in order to survive.

Both Owen and Anna are barely keeping themselves together, but they cannot show the extent of their despair. The whole family would fall apart if they did. The night before his mad plan to burn the place down, Owen did tell Anna just how desperate and exhausted he was. I found I was holding my breath throughout the scene. Ian Puleston-Davies anna-holds-new-contractconveyed Owen’s words and emotions with frightening intensity.

And Anna’s contribution to resolving the situation? Mother love will stop at nothing. Phelan gives her a choice: prostitute herself and he will let Owen out of the contract and destroy the incriminating video, don’t and he won’t. Rock, hard place.

Corrie Street Mar. 30/14

Like A Man

Amid the construction Tuesday, Owen and Gary discuss what makes a man.  What is bravery.  Gary says a gary and owen talk about being a mansoldier in war.  Owen says someone who does what is needed to keep his loved ones safe.  Both are right, and both say essentially the same thing but frame their argument in terms of their own experience.

Gary speaks from his time in Afghanistan.  Owen speaks from his time raising two girls on his own.  Their point is how does a man handle a difficult situation.  Because they are in one right now.  Phelan is enjoying working them mercilessly and goading them about their inability to do anything about it.  Gary keeps wanting to do something; take a jab at him, the-same-girlgo to the police and confess, call Phelan’s bluff.  Owen is playing the game with Phelan.   Yessir, no sir, will that be all sir?  Grovel or crawl, and smile.  Owen tries to keep his patience with both Phelan’s gloating and Gary’s temper.  Gary keeps his fists to himself only by Owen physically restraining him.

Owen gives Gary, and us, a bit more of his story.  When his wife left him, he wanted to just drive into a wall.  But she had also left their kids.  He had to take care of them, so what he wanted no longer could matter. It was good to hear more about his pre-Windass your-son-is-not-yet-a-year-oldlife.  It’s an Owen we don’t know that much about: middle of the night baby feedings, consoling a heartbroken eight-year-old.  Mothering and fathering them to adulthood.

Owen tells Gary that he is now the one responsible for that grown-up eight-year-old as well as a baby, so what he would like to do about, or to, Phelan doesn’t matter.  So he needs to suck it up and do whatever it takes to keep Phelan happy and, more importantly, quiet.  That, he says, is what a man, a brave man, does – whatever is necessary to protect those who rely on you.

you-are-preparedGary doesn’t extend his argument to a discussion of what a soldier does in a case where his own actions result in a messy situation.  But he knows that it is the same as what Owen is saying – whatever is necessary to protect his fellow soldiers.  I’m sure he knows too that the point of military training is to learn to not jeopardize the safety of anyone by acting before thinking.

Corrie Street Jun. 16/13

The first four episodes this past week each had more than one contender for “the scene”.  able-to-see-him-soonI cannot narrow it down any further than one from each day.

Monday:  Izzy’s face as she realizes the newborn is not crying and the nurse hustles him off.  Equally good was Izzy standing at the incubator holding the hand of the tiny infant inside it.

Tuesday:  Owen giving way to his fear and sadness.  “Vulnerable and venerable” my husband called Owen after seeing him lose his carefully constructed and maintained façade of bravery and bravado.  With Anna, he can give voice to his inner fears and self-see-him-lying-in-the-incubatorrecriminations.  He blamed himself for “pushing” Izzy and Gary into this surrogacy.  Of course he didn’t.  He was adamantly opposed when they said they were thinking of it and he gave valid reasons for his objections.  But he did make it possible.  They had the idea and he had the ability to figure out how best to do it as well as the resources to make it happen. Owen is the quintessential male in the schema of gender roles found in Men are from Mars, Women… Venus; Mr. Fixit, taking a problem and solving it. Now, with the baby’s prognosis for survival not great and the mess Izzy and Gary have made of their relationship, he blames himself for taking their hare-brained dream and making it a reality.

Wednesday:  Tina entering the nursery where Izzy and Gary are fighting beside the baby’s he-might-have-your-eyesincubator.  She lays down the law to them.  They will sort out their problems somewhere else and, until they do, neither of them will see the baby.  She has deliberately tried to avoid bonding with the child she was carrying, but she will defend him against anyone, including his biological parents.  Good for her.

Thursday:  Carla telling Rob what is going to happen in order for her to not report his theft to the police.  Her performance, as the character, belied Tracy’s earlier jibe that loser-I-grew-up-withbeneath the designer clothes and six inches of makeup, you’re nothing.  You could see Carla collect herself, and her strength, and say everything quickly before she lost her resolve.  She needed that focused composure in light of what Rob had said earlier to her, when she caught him out at the warehouse with the stolen silk.  Showing himself to be a master manipulator, he turned everything she said on its head.  He knew exactly where to poke clear-your-lockerto hit her own self-doubts and her love for him, the little brother she believes she abandoned long ago.  In the Bistro you can see the look of confusion on Rob’s face.  His tricks aren’t working on her.  Rob’s scenes this week have been the best I’ve ever seen from him.  I like him even less but I’m fascinated with watching the narcissist, verging on sociopath, side of him reveal itself.